CD Review

Listen while you read — “Casa de Papel” on SoundCloud “Casa de Papel”



By Steve Graham

Izcalli is proof that immigrants benefit our country and culture. Singer-guitarist Miguel Avina and his sister, bassist Brenda Avina, have been enriching the Colorado music scene with the sounds, language and passion of their native Mexico for 14 years (the group is named for both their hometown and the Nahuatl word for rebirth).

Appropriately for a band that mixes its Mexican influences with American psychedelic rock, the third member of the group is Colorado native Luiggy Ramirez. Izcalli also brings in a new producer and new guests on fiddle and trumpet for the fifth studio album, which will sound both familiar and fresh to longtime listeners.

Miguel recorded and produced most everything on the band’s first four releases. He ceded some control on “Casa de Papel” to Tyler Imbrogno, who produced the album at Daymoon Studios. The result is the band’s most diverse and striking release to date.

It opens with a driving anthem, “Como El Mar” (Like the Sea), but you need not speak Spanish to enjoy the hooks, appreciate the energy and understand the universal language of rock music.

The first English track is the head-banging “Never Had a Chance” that’s equal parts Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age.

All that thrash makes the title track, a beautiful trumpet-soaked ballad, all the more arresting and welcome. But stick with the whole album. The closing track, “Silver Spoon,” is a definite highlight. The lyrics are as aggressive as the driving guitars that channel Wolfmother.

Izcalli is playing a benefit show on June 9 at Ophelia’s, and opening for Kinky, a legendary genre-bending Mexican band, on July 26 at Levitt Pavilion in Denver.

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